V/H/S: Viral, the third entry in the found-footage anthology horror series, is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VHS. The release comes with a bunch of bonus features, including Gorgeous Vortex, the “lost” segment directed by Todd Lincoln (The Apparition).
I had an opportunity to sit down with Lincoln and talk about the V/H/S: Viral Blu-ray release and why his experimental horror short wasn’t included with the film’s initial release.
Geeks of Doom: How did you get involved with V/H/S: Viral?
Todd Lincoln: I was walking in the Topanga Canyon mall – eating cookies – when I ran into one of the V/H/S producers. He and I started talking and he asked if I’d be interested in directing a segment for the new V/H/S film. I went home and quickly fleshed out three different concepts that I sent to him and the other producers. Luckily, they chose Gorgeous Vortex.
Geeks of Doom:V/H/S: Viral was originally planned to have four stories and a wraparound, but your segment – Gorgeous Vortex – was cut. There were all kinds of rumors about why the segment was cut: it wasn’t finished in time, it was too long, it wasn’t good, it was too good, etc. Can you talk about why the segment was cut from the initial release?
Todd Lincoln: I finished my segment on time, on budget, and delivered it at the same time as the other V/H/S: Viral filmmakers. Gorgeous Vortex was the exact length and exact cut that you see today. The producers gave all of us total creative freedom. It was decided to make my film the secret surprise final segment of V/H/S: Viral to expand the mythology and point to a new direction for the franchise.
There has been some early interest and talk about turning Gorgeous Vortex into a feature film. I have a lot of ideas on what that would look like. But I kind of prefer Gorgeous Vortex to stand alone as a short film. There’s something cooler about that. Certainly I’m a fan of shorts that have been turned into features – THX-1138, La Jetée, District 9, Boogie Nights,The Evil Dead, – but I don’t think a film has to be feature-length to be “official.” It’s good to leave people wanting more and move on to the next project.
Geeks of Doom: An avant-garde, fashion-forward horror film – where did the idea for Gorgeous Vortex come from?
Todd Lincoln: I had been interested in smashing together elements of fashion photography and horror films and this story was the perfect chance to do so. I’m not sure where the idea came from. There were various concepts and imagery stored in my mind that began to connect in interesting ways.
Gorgeous Vortex is an experimental, high fashion horror film. It’s like an evil puzzle, or transmissions from an inter-dimensional fever dream. I pitched it and planned it to be purposely disruptive and divisive. The horror genre needs to be shaken up once in a while. My composer, Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring, Insidious, Annabelle), really elevated and enhanced Gorgeous Vortex with his haunting original score. He just released the soundtrack album on vinyl and digital download.
Geeks of Doom: Talk a bit about Jayden Robison; I was intrigued by her on-screen presence. How did she become involved with the film? How important was it to get fashion models for these hyper-elegant, fashion-forward parts?
Todd Lincoln: Some well-known actresses and models approached us to play the lead in Gorgeous Vortex, but I was looking for a fresh face. My casting director, Matthew Lessall, and I looked through all the submissions and dug deep at the talent agencies. I came across Jayden Robison, who had a really striking look. Once I spoke with her and we discussed the character, I knew she was the right person for the role. She had a strength and fierceness, but also a vulnerability. She was able to take the role in directions I couldn’t have anticipated. We also cast female models for other scenes and micro-moments. It was important to me that they know how to move and pose their bodies in a stylized, editorial way.
Geeks of Doom: Without giving much away, can you talk about some of the practical effects in the film – that was a pleasant surprise! The designs reminded me of Henson’s Dark Crystal or Guillermo del Toro’s work with Mike Mignola.
Todd Lincoln: Wow. That’s very nice of you to say. Thanks. I’m a huge fan of practical effects and try use them whenever possible. I was excited to get Vincent Guastini and his team at V.G.P. Effects & Design Studio to come onboard the project.
For this mission, Vincent assembled some of the best creature effects artists, sculptors, and technicians around, including Joshua Ballze, Josh Wasylink, Mike Rotella, Steve Winsett, and Evan Campbell. They went above and beyond on the creature design and operated it beautifully. It was so thrilling to see it come to life. Creature effects artists have always been some of my favorite people to hang out with both on and off the set.
Geeks of Doom: If you could curate a horror anthology with any five directors living or dead, who would they be?
Todd Lincoln: Great question! I would love to produce a horror anthology. I’d love to work with David Lynch, Chris Cunningham, Jim Jarmusch, Brian De Palma, and John Carpenter.
Geeks of Doom: That’s a hell of a list – I want to watch that movie right now! While we’re talking about directors, what are some of your personal influences in regard to your style and also specifically when it came to Gorgeous Vortex? There feels like there might be some Kubrick or Lynch in there…
Todd Lincoln: Thanks so much. That’s a huge compliment. Those are major league comparisons.
For this project I was probably most inspired by avant-garde video artists, George Lucas’s early experimental films, and the writings of J.G. Ballard and Jean Baudrillard.
Also, I know this won’t seem like a direct influence for this film, but reading the book Dennis Hopper: Interviews really helped me get through this shoot. Dennis Hopper’s words reminded me to trust my gut, cancel out all the noise, and really go far-out.
While planning Gorgeous Vortex I kept thinking of Walter Murch’s quote about working with George Lucas on THX-1138. Murch said, “What we were interested in doing was making a film from the future rather than about the future.”
Geeks of Doom: So, now that we’re talking about the future – what’s next?
Todd Lincoln: Right now I’m taking meetings, reading scripts, and in research/development mode. I’m writing a new feature script – it’s a psychosexual sci-fi thriller. I’m also exploring new forms of storytelling and world-building in other mediums such as real-time, mobile-augmented reality. In the meantime, everyone should keep checking www.gorgeousvortex.com for new micro-films that tie in with Gorgeous Vortex.
Geeks of Doom: Awesome. Thanks so much for your time, Todd. I’m looking forward to what’s next for you and the V/H/S series.
Todd Lincoln: Thanks, Adam. It’s been a pleasure!
Gorgeous Vortex plays at the very end of V/H/S: Viral, directly after the end credits. It arrives as a secret surprise transmission. It’s my understanding that you can only see Gorgeous Vortex if you purchase the film. I don’t believe the final segment is included if you just rent the film from iTunes or another VOD provider. V/H/S: Viral is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VHS.